What a week for United. Another 4-0 victory, 8 goals in 2 games, zero goals conceded, another top performance and now a points advantage over all of their top 6 rivals. Jose Mourinho and his men could not have asked for more and head into their 3rd fixture over Leicester with the highest confidence.
City up first
Before United though, the weekend is kicked off with the blue half of the city travelling South to face a struggling Bournemouth side, yet to pick up a point or score a goal. City were disappointed with dropping points at home last Monday but after being a goal and man down after an hour, a point is definitely a gained one. As I suggested last week, Pep seems to have a problem with balance in his City team. Undoubtedly, he possesses the largest of attacking talent but at the moment he doesn’t seem to be able to get the best out of them. Leroy Sane was superb last season yet has found himself on the bench and then starting at left wing back. Bernardo Silva cannot get a starting berth and Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus do not quite look like a partnership. If he can get it right, they will be hard to beat. Bournemouth are yet to pick up a point after 2 games in which they would have backed themselves to get at least a point from both. The return of Jermain Defoe to the starting line up in the midweek League Cup victory will surely boost their hopes of some goals and points but they may have to wait another week to do so. City will want to get back to winning ways asap and probably will have enough to get past Bournemouth.
There are only the four 3 o’clock kick offs this weekend. One of which sees United early title rivals in action, when newly promoted and high-flying Huddersfield face off against Southampton. Like United, Huddersfield have won 2 out of 2 and yet to concede and will feel confident they can add further points at home to Southampton who just managed to get over the line last week versus a 10-man West Ham. Of course I jest about being United’s rivals as Huddersfield will not continue to be one of the front runners in the league. But they are 6 points closer to safety than they would have hoped for at this stage. On Saturday, they could well be 9.
The other intriguing game will be the battle of the early relegation strugglers when Newcastle play West Ham with both sides sitting on 0 points. West Ham showed great fighting spirit to battle back from a 2 goal and 1-man deficit only for Southampton to score an injury time winner. This will surely give them more of a boost compared to what Newcastle would have got from yet another defeat without scoring. To top that off, their own manager had since come out and said he does not believe they are ready for the premier league. If they lose this one, you should agree with Benitez and think Newcastle are going to have a long, hard season back in the top flight.
Are the old United back?
The late kick off on Saturday is where United see themselves this week. A visit of Leicester City will probably be their toughest test yet, especially from a defensive front. The United back line will have to be at their best to keep them at bay but you would think United will have too much for them in attack, coming off the back of two 4-0 victories. The swagger is back, the talk of title contenders is once again ringing around Old Trafford and the real sign that United are somewhere near where they should be? The sound of hatred towards them is back amongst social media. Jose Mourinho looks fired up and although City may possess more attacking talent, they certainly do not possess the same balance and pace that United have. The players seem to be on top form, with Paul Pogba looking more like the £90 million star United were hoping to see last season. Maybe the crazy transfer window has helped take any focus off of his own fee, resulting in a more relaxed player. What ever the reason, Mourinho and supporters across the world will hope it continues. I can see another high scoring affair, maybe this time not with a clean sheet, but United will remain top going into the irritating international break.
Big games again on Sunday
Leading the 4 Sunday games will be Chelsea versus Everton. There is no doubting who has the hardest start to the season with the trip to Stamford Bridge proceeding the 1-1 draw at the Etihad last Monday. In the coming weeks Everton then host Spurs and travel to Manchester once more to play Mourinho’s men. So far Ronald Koeman will be over the moon his side’s start, although he may be thinking the point at City could and should have been more seeing as they were leading after an hour and against 10 men. However, it was probably a point gained and if he can get through the next 3 without too much damage, he may yet see a chance of his side breaking into the top 6 with an outside chance of top 4. Chelsea picked up a superb victory at Wembley last week, especially with the number of players unavailable. With those players coming back, Antonio Conte will look to push on following the turmoil of pre-season and the opening defeat at home to Burnley. This could be a right affair and a tough one to call.
As per last week, there is yet another huge game this Sunday when Liverpool host Arsenal at Anfield. The battle of 2 brilliant attacking outfits and 2 shocking defensive units will surely see goals galore. Both teams have started in patchy form, but the midweek Champions League win and qualification, will do Liverpool no harm what so ever. Arsenal will be looking to bounce back from the Stoke defeat as they would not want to fall a potential 6 points adrift of top spot this early. The return of Alexis Sanchez will help produce even more attacking threat in what already looks an exciting game. Unlike Mourinho or Come, you very rarely see Jurgen Klopp or Arsene Wenger change how they play, so you may as well pick a score out of a hat than try to predict this one.
The weekend is completed by Spurs once more trying to overcome the “Wembley jinx” when the welcome Burnley. Of course, there is no jinx, it just appears that way. Spurs should win this comfortably, but they have not had the greatest start to, what I have mentioned before, is a huge season for them. They struggled to break down Newcastle until they were reduced to 10 men, then last week should have beaten a depleted Chelsea side, but could not get the job done. Their overall game improved but they missed a great opportunity to beat one of their rivals and put some early distance between them, even at this early stage. Burnley have begun in a strange fashion, beating the Champions away from home then going down 1-0 at home to West Brom, but they remain a side capable of picking up results against the big boys and look like they will have enough, especially at home to pick up the odd 3 points against those in and around them. Sean Dyche will be hoping the record acquisition of Chris Wood will boost their goal tally, but the jump from championship to the Premier League is very rarely that fruitful so this is a big call from Burnley. Spurs will likely get back to winning ways in this one, but I believe it will be a tight encounter.
From a United point of view, they will be looking to head into the international break with a 100% record and they really should. Mourinho will be hoping that it won’t affect the momentum his side have built over the first 3 weeks, especially with any injuries. They head to Stoke next so will keep an eye on Mark Hughes’ men’s progress this weekend, before they head into a tougher run of games with Everton, Southampton and Liverpool all to come over the next few weeks, as well as the start of our Champions League campaign.